Help researching future wireless technology
August 14, 2006 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for additional information related to Ambient Networking and Contextual Awareness, especially as it relates to wireless networking systems.

I would be interested in information about companies that are focused in developing products in this area (my searches to date have led to lots of research articles, but no real products). I would also be interested in other fields of study that are directly related (examples could be: pervasive computing, though I'm more interested in the network, client and user interface/experience aspects of it).
posted by forforf to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Would you be interested in "motes" / wireless sensor networks at all? I have one right next to me and though I don't really have much experience in the field I could point you towards a bit of information, including the commercial product I'm using right now.

Would position sensing systems fall under your heading of Contextual Awareness? I am interested in doing some work in that area and I've looked up a bit of stuff, including, again, some commercial products.

Let me know, I'll dig up links for either or both.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:25 PM on August 14, 2006

Response by poster: Yes, both of those would be useful, especially the commercial products aspect of them.
posted by forforf at 1:49 PM on August 14, 2006

Have you seen this book?
posted by rsanheim at 5:46 PM on August 14, 2006

Are you talking about technology such as that produced by Ambient Devices?
posted by reverendX at 6:54 PM on August 14, 2006

Is it safe to assume you've searched through CACM and such? if not, this was an interesting issue: Volume 48 , Issue 3 (March 2005) The disappearing computer

I've been thinking of getting MOTE-KIT400 to play with.

read the small list of industry related works on the tinyos site.

(I tend to collect sensors links)
posted by bleary at 9:25 PM on August 14, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks all. Now that this is off the front page I don't expect much more activity. Everything was useful, but not exactly what I was looking for. What I was looking for was technology or products that integrate the sensors, information systems and networks so that it was usable and natural for the user. But all of it was useful.
posted by forforf at 6:28 AM on August 15, 2006

From my research they're not that far into having the sensors as integrated parts of other technology or products.

Given that, the one thing I have left is the MIT Cricket System. This is a position sensing system with accuracy in the centimeters range and room-sized range. They've done some applications work of the type you're interested in, from Doom to this thing that looks like one of the futuristic guns from Half-Life, including shooting a laser, and can map dumb physical objects like chairs into the position-aware world. The Cricket System is commercially available based on the Crossbow Mica motes, but very expensive. ($900 to cover a room, $225 per sensor.)

The other commercially-available position sensing system of this type that I've found is from UbiSense, with 1-foot accuracy.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:17 AM on August 15, 2006

I was wondering what exactly you want to ponder. Do you want to look at GUI design for a program that manages multiple streams of data coming in from a sensor network? Do you also want to consider non-traditional interfaces for data streams (such as the ambient orb type of thing? or the interfaces from the CACM article -- like a lit wall in the work place, etc.)

I'm not sure you'll find an exemplar, and you are probably curious about things that haven't been built yet. But perhaps I'm over generalizing from my own interests. What I tend to do is look for examples of programs and interfaces that are used to solve analagous problems -- they aren't going to be perfect fits, but perhaps good enough.

So, perhaps traffic analysis would be a good example. you can probably follow trails from there to companies who supply those types of solutions for studying automobile traffic.

Or perhaps air traffic control programs.

search on information visualization. and scientific visualization. I know that people often tag those topics with vis in infovis. and so on.

look at how people try to visualize and work with large data sets. Are you a student? look at going to some place like the last one had a panel on the visualization of large data sets.

again, I could ponder all day, since I like to ruminate about these things. but I don't exactly what you're looking for, so I didn't blah blah blah so much at you in my first reply.
posted by bleary at 9:19 AM on August 15, 2006

I don't know exactly what you're looking for.

doh. and sorry for rambling.

btw, I'd like it if you followed up with some of what you've already found.
posted by bleary at 9:21 AM on August 15, 2006

Bleary - have you taken a good look at TinyOS / nesC programming yet? I just had to do a little bit this past weekend. (I'm building a robot which actually has a more powerful processor than the Xbow motes, but they have applications they've already done on the motes which would benefit from mobility, so I did a quick interface on the mote to let it ride around and control my robot.)

I found it to be a big pain in the ass, basically. I like regular C or C++ programming where I know what my program is doing at any time, as opposed to the TinyOS model where it's three or four levels of abstraction for me to write a byte to the serial port and I have no idea what the processor is currently doing. So check it out before you get the mote kit.

Looking at the Xbow site, I also feel like the price on the motes themselves is fine, but things like $99 for a programming board that does nothing much and $99 for a USB-serial converter are a little outlandish.

I don't know if other type motes are better in either of these areas.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:41 AM on August 15, 2006

TheOnlyCoolTim -- no, thanks for the warning. (I've enjoyed C programming in a ThreadX environment.) I'll look into my options more before making a big purchase.
posted by bleary at 10:41 AM on August 15, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks all. The closest product I've found to what I'm looking for is BEA's Aqualogic platform, while the best description of the type of system I'm looking for was some European research into Ambient Networks. The question originated because my company (a start up) was formed by experienced (all 10+ years) wireless technologistsis frustrated with existing service providers and the performance and integration of their services. We have ideas and solutions in this space, and we were looking to see what other work has been done. Looks like there's still a lot of opportunity in this space, which would be good news for us. Thanks again!
posted by forforf at 7:54 AM on August 16, 2006

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